On Wednesday, Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam in Hawaii was rocked by a violent attack. A sailor opened fire on three civilian employees, killing two of them, then taking his own life.
This comes just days before a swarm of VIPs will descend upon the base to commemorate the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor that kicked off America’s involvement in World War II.
Here’s what the AP has reported on the incident so far:
An active duty U.S. sailor whose submarine was docked at Pearl Harbor opened fire on three civilian employees Wednesday, killing two and then taking his own life just days before dignitaries and veterans descend on the base for the 78th anniversary of the Japanese attack.
The commander of Navy Region Hawaii, Rear Adm. Robert Chadwick, said he didn’t know the motive behind the shooting at the Hawaii base’s naval shipyard that left the third civilian Department of Defense employee hospitalized.
It also wasn’t known if the sailor and the three male civilians had any type of relationship, or what the motive was for the shooting, Chadwick said.
“We have no indication yet whether they were targeted or if it was a random shooting,” Chadwick said.
The sailor was assigned to the fast attack submarine USS Columbia, which is at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for maintenance. Details about the sailor were not immediately released.
It wasn’t immediately known what type of weapon was used or how many shots were fired. Chadwick said that was part of the investigation. Personal weapons are not allowed on base.
The third civilian appears to be recovering from his injuries.
Now, with that said, that last sentence in the quoted section is very important.
You see, a lot of people don’t realize that our military bases are really great, big gun-free zones. Military personnel who don’t explicitly need a firearm to carry out their duties are disarmed per regulations.
Right now, though, there are still a lot of questions. As we don’t know the identity of the shooter, we also can’t really speculate how he got a firearm onto the base. It’s not overly difficult for someone living in base housing–the one area of the base you’re allowed to have a personally-owned firearm, as a general rule–to get one on base. Nor is it particularly difficult to get a weapon on base if you’re driving on from out in town.
Yet if the sailor is single and living on base, that raises questions of just where did he get the firearm and how did he keep its existence secret from the Navy.
While it should be noted that Hawaii has some very strict gun control laws on the books, we simply don’t know how the sailor got the weapon he used. It may have been purchased in the state or was imported from the mainland. We simply don’t know.
Regardless, we do know that this will potentially reignite a dwindling gun control debate throughout the nation. Had the attack been deadlier, the likelihood of that happening would have grown.
In the meantime, though, three families will soon be mourning if they aren’t already. We would do well to keep them in our thoughts and prayers as we proceed.